Writing a novel is hard. Really, really hard.

This is not the first time I’ve ever done creative writing. But historically I wrote when an idea struck, whatever time of day or night that might be, a fevered hour or two, then the moment was over. I have an awful lot of disconnected scenes scattered around in various notebooks (I like to write longhand to start with, ideally).

But this year, inspired by friends/very nice people on the internets, plus the vague sense of needing to write creatively (and not having done much of that in the past five years) I signed up to NaNoWriMo, which is essentially a challenge to write a novel in a month, or at least 50,000 words of a first draft of a novel.

I was surprised to find that at first it was relatively easy to fit in writing on work days. I created a slot for it in my daily routine. Weekends and other days off are determinedly unstructured, so that was harder. I like a good lie-in, not getting dressed until mid-afternoon, so it can be hard to make myself switch into work mode and get on with it.

I have to agree with this brilliant blog post that writers are hard to live with. To write, I need to shut everything out for hours on end. It’s not like reading a book where I can be interrupted for a conversation or an offer of/request for a cup of tea. And because I was fitting it around a full-time job and I have limited energy thanks to the delights of lupus I had to drop something so I dropped doing housework, which was delightful for Tim I’m sure (I should point out that Tim has been super-supportive, picking up the slack and encouraging me to write even when it meant we barely exchanged five words a day).

Unfortunately it was all too much and in week two I burned out. I’m not sure if it was a lupus flare or if I will never be able to do that much every day but I felt that zombie feeling come over me and knew I had to stop. So I stopped worrying about word counts and fitting everything else around NaNoWriMo, and just tried to do some writing when I could (not every day). Which means that I didn’t “win” – my final word count yesterday was 31,018 – but that’s 31,018 words of which some might even be reasonably not awful and an idea for a novel that might be an okay one. So for now I won’t just drop it because NaNoWriMo is over. And maybe next year I’ll do some planning before November and try to plan some time off work and make a bit more of NaNoWriMo. Either way, it feels good to be writing again, and that was really the point.

5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo

  1. Leeswammes (Judith) December 1, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Well done for trying and for getting over 30K! That is not bad at all, given your full-time work and your chronic illness. In fact, I think that is really good.

    I did make it, procrastinated so I had 1,500 words to write still on the last day but I don’t work and I have a chronic illness that hardly ever shows its face.

    I’m also planning to work on the novel in the coming months. My story actually finished at 49,100 words but I know that I have a lot of “summarized” sentences where I should really expand to make it a nicer story.

    Good luck with the continuation of your novel!

  2. Lillput December 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Well done for doing as much as you did. You’re right, the point of the exercise is to get writing, not necessarily to get a fully formed book out of it.
    I’m amazed anyone manages to write that much in such a short space of time whilst having a job.
    Roll on next year, then 🙂

  3. Nose in a book December 3, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Judith Wow, well done on finishing! That’s impressive. Good luck with the redrafting.

    Lillput Thank you.

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